When we left the tracks, he was breathing heavy but not slowing, so I pushed him farther. We ran across the yard through rows of cars and out to the edge of the lot to the foot of the Bucket. I pointed to the top. “Every workout ends up there.” He followed me every step. Tired and gorging on air, we left Audrey at the bottom and began sprinting up the hill. After the first slight hump, he faltered just a bit. I slowed, put my hand on his back, and gently pushed. He caught his breath and regained his stride. So I stretched him again and pushed farther. Three-quarters of the way up, he’d redlined. Which was good. I needed to know his limits. I also needed him to know that he could push past them, so I stretched him farther and upped the tempo one last time. He dropped a step or two behind me. I slowed and ran alongside him. My shoulder bumping his. “Nope. Not now. You want to be something other than what you are, then run up here alongside me. I know you’re tired, and I don’t really care. You can breathe when we get to the top. You want to become better? Then this is where it starts.” He gave me all he had and never offered an excuse. When he reached the top, he bent at the waist trying to catch his breath but he didn’t take his eyes off me. He was waiting for the next call-the next play. Every quarterback, sooner or later, will face a point in a game where all hades has broken loose and very little, if anything, is in his control. It usually comes somewhere in the fourth quarter when he’s tired and hurting, when his body is bruised and battered and his mind is screaming at him to lie down and quit. To make the bad man stop. Audrey believes in Dee and had told me a lot, but I needed to know what was in him. How deep was his well. Could he respond to me when his mind was screaming at him to quit? And how much did all of this matter? I needed to know if he was enamored with the idea of being a quarterback or playing quarterback.
The difference matters.
My punishment of him the first morning out may seem insensitive but I didn’t want to waste my time or his. So I pushed him until his body cracked. That very moment is what I wanted to see. And when I did, when his body had done all it could, his eyes and ears were trained on me.
And you can’t coach that. This kid wanted to play quarterback.
(Martin, Charles. A Life Intercepted. New York, Center Street, 2014.)
When I read the above passage, I was reminded of how God often uses trials, difficulties, pressures and stresses, to test us. He knows just how much pressure to apply and for how long in order to strengthen us, and also to see what is deep inside of our hearts. At our most pressed, the words that come out of our mouths, our actions, our attitudes, etc. will reveal Jesus or not. He knows just how much we are capable of withstanding and whether or not we will keep our eyes on Him. Just like in the above story, each time the coach gently pushed the athlete past what he thought he could stand, more and more strengthening and refining took place. The same happens with us. The Lord sees into our heart and sees what is truly motivating us. The pressure and stress are controlled by His loving hands and aren’t meant to destroy us. His desire is to determine what is truly in our hearts and increase our endurance. His purpose is for us to reach deeper depths in our relationship with Him and follow his leading in what He wants us to accomplish for the Kingdom of God because we want to do His will. We want to “play quarterback” not just have that title in name only. Our greatest desire is, or should be, to follow His leading and please Him.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
P.S. The book, A Life Intercepted (Charles Martin), is a really good read especially if you like football or are looking for a good Christian fiction novel. 😊